The Nigerian Year Of The Rats

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By Moses Okpogode
In faraway China, a new year has just been celebrated. It’s is the year of the Red Fire Monkey. According to the Chinese five elements horoscope; the monkey contains metal and water. Metal is connected to gold while water is related to wisdom and danger. The predication is that, this year the Chinese will deal with more financial events because of the elements contained in the Red Fire Monkey year. These are also judged through the characteristics of the monkey who is seen as smart, naughty, wily and vigilant. However, its metal symbol, unlike that of the monkey, is an associate of the wind. These translate that events, mostly financial in the year of the monkey, will change quickly. This calls for caution to all would-be investors into the Chinese economy.

Businesses, career and even relationships, as those born in the year of the monkey cannot be trusted because of their chameleonic lifestyles.

On the contrary, in the year of the rats, though people derogatorily consider them as not adorable, so many good things happen. The year of the rats ranks first on the Chinese zodiac signs. Rat has the characteristics of an animal with spirit, wit, and alertness. Although it’s a delicacy among the Tiv people in the middle belt of Nigeria, rats are known for flexibility and vitality. They are seen as quick-witted, resourceful and versatile, having strong intuition and quick response to adapt themselves into a new environment. It’s further revealed that with their imagination and sharp observation, rats can take advantage of various opportunities very well. A strong curiosity that makes them try their hands at anything and deal with it skilfully.

It is the reason I have chosen this year, 2016 as the Nigerian year of the rats, but rats of different species. Rats that apply their skills deceitfully and criminally in the presence of cats to pad up the budget of change. Soiling the new chapter of change with venomised faeces that seem to be sedating the glowing profile of the present administration, infesting it with maggots which unfortunately only chichidodos that hate faeces have the best knowledge of sanitizing. Until the Health Minister Isaac Adewole came up with the invisible rats slogan during his budget defense at the National Assembly, nobody knew that rodents could still be on the prowl when well equipped, highly trained, surveillance and dreaded cats are on duty in their natural habitats.
What is it about 2016 appropriation bill?

There is a lot about the budget; that is what you hear each time you dare to defend the bill and the All Progressive Congress administration in public places including beer parlours, saloons, sports betting shops and even while in commuter vehicles. Plenty of unanswered questions and enquiries awaiting responses. Quite a number of people are in denial over the budget after applauding and adjudging it as the best thing that ever happened to Nigeria and Nigerians. Many other Nigerians are at the mercy of analysts who know it all based on what they are fed with on the radio, television and newspapers, depending on the biases of the mediums they defer to. However no matter how much we try to defend the budget, it confronts us from all fronts with the seeming ineptitude and the ineffectual characteristics of this administration’s highly trusted civil service personnel and their temporal supervisors labeled by their own boss as noise-makers. The arguments are centered around the so-called change mantra. Change, they say is a step up always for the better and not a retrogressive slide into the past and the usual.

The reason we cannot be acknowledging that change is here is because the first national assignment of its apostles is fraught with irregularities, errors, suspicious and wasteful proposals. Deviating from the principle with which the administration campaigned for votes just to start toeing the paths journeyed by previous administrations of the People’s Democratic Party is the height of fraud, exactly what in common parlance is called “one chance”.

Before now, economic analysts, strategists and opinion poll held the government in contempt and scorn for its high degree of arrogance in predicating the 2016 budget on an oil benchmark of $38 despite lower oil price environment. The rats which are giving the health minister a real hard time with the outbreak of Lassa Fever reared their heads again in his budget. Changing almost all that he inputed into it without due consultations with him, dragging him out to the National Assembly so impromptu, with no preparations just to find himself a short while after on the hot seat of the Senate defending a budget that has been cooked up by rats. Little wonder he could no longer contain his feelings and disdain for such animals that wouldn’t allow him peace only three months since he assumed duties as a federal minister.

It has never been disputed that the President Muhammadu Buhari came into office wearing a toga of integrity. Though togas fit into bodies just loosely, this one needs to be tight and preserved so that the president leaves with it in one piece after his tenure, either one or two terms in office. He shouldn’t be seen ridiculed in the face of his disciples and followers as another ‘ineffectual leader’ produced by the country. We have had enough of that, a reason nobody is ready to entertain maggot producing rats but those that bring forth blessings in line with the Chinese horoscopes readings of the years of the rats. The president’s demand for a robust debate on the 2016 budget after the nebulous hands of Jacob were felt on it is a welcomed development. But it doesn’t have to end there. Every bit of the document should be published as ordered. Let it be reviewed by his team and get the anomalies corrected. It also more complicated than just sacking the Directors General of parastatals which ‘unfortunately’ is a good omen in the era of Change and its disciples, having been appointed by a previous administration.

Alas, time waits for no one. Nigeria is a country that is in need of time. Time to fix roads, time to renovate schools, time to employ jobless young people, time to build rails, time to diversify the economy, time to build hospitals, time to train the personnel who handle patients in the hospitals, time to build electricity infrastructures, time to contain internal crises, time to encourage foreign investors, time to stem foreign promoted aggressions, time to re-establish trust and promote unity, time to reduce incidences of primordial hatreds and time to pay for sacrifices of those who have served the nation judiciously and punish those who betrayed the trust entrusted to them.

That is why anybody who dies while waiting for health care services while the budget is being delayed will be counted against the government. Anyone who dies as a result of road accidents over bad roads would be seen as strangulation by the system. Lack of electricity to set up a small fabricating shop to gain income will be taken against the government as a mark of failure. But the administration can guide against all these if it put its house in order by tidying the document at no time and getting it ready for passage by the National Assembly.

It would also be applauded if the rats who padded the budget are identified as soon as possible for the purpose of transparency and prosecuted in the same vein with its anti-corruption fight to fortify the regime against any such unwarranted embarrassment and avoidable distractions of the types that are already under probe.

‘As a man of such a way’ like my people always say, it’s better to be meticulous in everything we do than to come out crying foul over collective mistakes on collective responsibility. This is the height of hypocrisy.

Twitter: @MOkpogode